Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Entry Fee Announced -- Sort of.......

March 2011








**SILVER STATE, May 12-15

**PIKES PEAK, June 26






If all goes well, we might know the starting city this week. We've been waiting since late January. Selecting the route involves negotiations with each individual cities and the approval of proposed plans for the route and security. Nothing is final at this time (March 22).

The official route of the Pan Am, October 21-27, 2011 has not been officially announced, but for only the second time the starting city is expected to be Huatulco, a resort area on the Pacific in the state of Oaxaca. Normally, the event starts in Tuxtla Gutierrez, in the state of Chiapas.

Huatulco is six or more long hours southeast of the city of Oaxaca by car and is served by a small airport. There is really no city of Huatulco. It is a area of small towns, nine bays, thirty-six beaches, and numerous lagoons featuring low-rise hotels. The coastline is rocky like Northern California’s, but the vegetation is tropical, like Hawaii’s.

Be prepared! Because there is no big city in this area, it is impossible to find racing supplies. It is also difficult to find a qualified shop to weld up your roll cage or make other repairs. Just make sure that you have what you need and your car is ready before you arrive.

If the starting city is Huatulco, we may assume that the race will spend the first night in the city of Oaxaca. Huatulco is well off the original Pan Am highway, but it is possible that the cars will again run south down the coast to Tehuantepec before racing north toward Oaxaca on the old Pan Am highway.

Expect it to be hot, muggy, and buggy in Huatulco, with the threat of tropical storms. The ending city this year is expected to be Zacatecas again.

Huatulco is quiet and laid-back compared to Cancun or Cabo. In 2009, it was very quiet in late October. The all inclusive hotels are a pretty good deal. The Carrera Office will probably offer that option. The locals say the weather gets much better in November and stays that way until April.


For the third straight year the Pan Am will probably be over-subscribed. Of forty-four proposed entries from the U.S. and Canada, only 36 were admitted, and some of those have not received final confirmation. In past years, there have been as many as 54 entries from “North America.” Actually, we may have around 41-2 entries, as it works out. A couple of guys who work in the States, were able to register using their European home address.

The big increase in entries recently has actually been from Mexico. Eduardo “Lalo” Leon, the president of the LCP Organizing Committee, said that he expected 57 entries at least from his home country, which is more than double what it was six years ago, for example. The big group of Porsche 911s sponsored by Televisa is a primary reason the Mexican numbers are way up, and a major reason why the displacement limit for a 911 went from 2.0 to 2.4 liters a couple of years ago.

Televisa broadcast a 90 minute special on the Pan Am last year.

At this time around 60 entries have been posted on the official web site www.lacarrerapanamericana.com.mx. Some U.S. and Canadians who were promised an entry are not yet listed on the web site, but this should be resolved soon.


The only mandatory fees are:

1. Entry Fee. The entry fee for 2011 will be $750 more than last year’s. The fee covers the driver, co-driver, and the car. For the first time, there will also be a substantial, additional fee ($500 USD?) to register more drivers or co-drivers.

2. Rally license. All drivers and navigators must purchase a Mexican rally license. Expect it to cost around $280-300 USD (paid at the start of the event). The license includes a modest amount of medical insurance.

Contrary to what the rules clearly stipulate, it seems that one does not need to have a racing license from their home country to acquire the Mexican license. However, racing experience, training, and/or practice are highly recommended. Drivers and co-drivers will also be given a quick, but free, medical exam before the race. Evidence of a stress test or EKG has not be requested.

3. Mexican Car Insurance. Competitors must provide proof of insurance on their service vehicles at registration. The cost usually runs between $12-25 a day. There are several vendors, including my favorite Baja Bound in San Diego, that broker these policies.

Go to www.bajabound.com/?r=panamrace and shop for a company and an appropriate level of coverage. They are also one of the few companies that will issue policies on older cars. You can pay by credit card and download your policy via email. They are also very helpful on the telephone. They understand racing in Mexico—from the Baja 500 to the Chihuahua Express.

Mexican insurance coverage works just like insurance in the USA. Having liability insurance on the race car is also recommended, but not required, if you plan to test it before the race begins or drive it at night. Such insurance coverage would not be valid while the car is in competition, of course. (We are attempting to clarify something in the draft rules about insurance on the race car. When we know for sure, we will post the information.)

During competition the race car and its crew are covered by the event’s insurance third-party liability policy. However, this policy may not cover a driver found guilty of gross negligence or driving under the influence. This policy also may not cover any damage inflicted by the race car on bridges, trees, buildings, guardrails, burros, cattle, or other impediments to racing. Hit a barrier along the highway for example, and the local police will try and collect. It's best to keep moving!


The Pan Am entry fee covers admission to the race and one double hotel room (two beds) for two people for eight nights, October 20-27. If additional rooms are needed, they cost $160 per night, please send an email with your hotel needs to: info@lacarrerapanamericana.com.mx. The luxury hotel rooms have been filled, so there’s no need to ask about that option.

Most racers will arrive in the starting city by October 18. But the "free" room does not begin until October 20. Thus, you will need to reserve your "free" room for two additional nights. The same is true for your service crew. Their room will also be $160 a night extra.


The expense for food and beverage during the Pan Am varies enormously with individual budgets, tastes, and selections of restaurants. One may eat very cheaply in Mexico or pay hotel prices, which are still less expensive than Europe or U.S. Most racers budget about $60 dollars a day for food, but some hotels will charge $25 just for the buffet breakfast. The fall in the value of the peso will help in this category. It is currently around 11.5 peso for one U.S. dollar.


PEMEX gasoline costs $2.80-3.00 USD a gallon. Plan to pay in pesos, but more stations are accepting credit cards. The race covers normally around 2000 miles counting wrong turns and side trips. Diesel fuel (black pump handle) is generally available, but it is the old-fashioned high-sulfur kind. Much of the gasoline sold in Mexico, especially premium, is refined in the U.S. and tends to be OK. Octane levels are 87 (Maga-green handle) or 91 (Premium-red handle). Racing fuel is not allowed, but you may use octane booster.

The race uses a lot of toll roads, and they are relatively expensive. Budget $200 for the racecar and $400 for the tow truck and trailer for the trip down and back to Laredo. (Pesos only.)


Importing a vehicle on a temporary tourist permit costs around $35 USD (at the border or certain Mexican consulates) or around $56 USD on the Internet (credit card only). Importing a car with the services of a Mexican customs broker will cost $300-1200. This fee is highly negotiable. If you use a temporary tourist permit to get you car or truck into Mexico, you will also need a FMM tourist visa, which costs $22 dollars.

A special brokering arrangement in Nuevo Laredo for the Coyote Convoy will be offered, if there is sufficient interest. A customs broker is recommended if (1) all the owners of the vehicles are not present at the border, (2) the truck and race car are in one person’s name, (3) the race car has no title, and/or (4) the team is carrying a lot of pare parts, extra tires, engines, welders, etc. If you are willing to pay the extra money ($300?), it is the stress-free way to enter Mexico.

More information on the importing of vehicles for the Pan Am will be sent to registered competitors.


Seven’s Only, a race shop in Buttonwillow, California, will transport your race car to Mexico and back to the truck’s headquarters in California for around $5,000 plus document fees, and will provide mechanical support on an hourly basis.

Unfortunately, there is no big truck coming from the Midwest or East Coast.

Most Europeans ship their cars to the Mexican port of Veracruz. Others ship their cars to an American port (Houston or New Orleans) and drive or tow them down to Mexico. Tow trucks and vans may be rented in Texas for the trip into Mexico.


Competitors may arrange mechanical support in Mexico for $1500-3000, or they can pay local mechanics by the hour. Some of the U.S. transporters will provide mechanical support for an additional fee. Towing within Mexican can also be arranged. One team of Mexican mechanics and welders usually follow the race. They will repair cars on a retainer basis or by the hour. Car shops are also open all night in most of the cities where we stop for the night.


Towing or driving a race car to Mexico? Join the Coyote Convoy, and have more fun! The convoy of twenty or more trucks, trailers, and race cars will leave Laredo, Texas on October 14, 2011 for the trip across the border and down to the start of the race. The convoy will stop for two nights in the Mexican resort city of San Miguel de Allende, before heading on to the start of the race. It will arrive in the starting city on October 17. Registration and inspection starts on October 18.

Because we are together for three or four days, we know each other by the time we get to the starting city. This makes is much easier for the service crews to work together during the race. Bottom line: there is strength in numbers.


The official rules or “Reglamento” for the Pan Am are being revised for 2011. Some changes were made in an effort to slow the fastest cars down somewhat. These changes should be announced soon.

Please note that a HANS devices or other approved (FIA/SFI) head and neck protection system will be required in all classes this year.

FIA approved racing seats may also be required, along with things like: spec Holly carburetors, spec differential gear ratios, and a limit on maximum RPM.

Owners of cars being built now for the Pan Am should have the design for their roll cages reviewed before the cage is installed. All roll cages and safety equipment are subject to inspection and final approval at the start of the event.


Chihuahua Express, April 8-10 (There is still time to sign up!)

Silver State Classic, May, May 12-15. 702-631-6166, www.sscc.us

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, June 26 (www.rmvr.org)

Monterey Historics, Carrera Fiesta, August 20 -- 650-726-9890


65 Mustang GT350R. “The Gypsy Wind.” Ready for the world famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb June 26, 2011. It knows its way to the top. 400+ HP. Prepped for hill climb altitude and suspension. Rally computer and intercom system. Coaching and in-car video available to pre-run the hill in its entirety. Full support offered by experienced car builder and vet of the Hill Climb. Contact Todd Landon at TALandon@landolakes.com. (see photo above)

’72 BMW 2002. Finished 25th overall in 2009 LCP, third in class. Balanced and blue printed engine. 10.5-1 pistons, dual Mikuni carbs. Full Roll Cage, Fire suppression system, Terra-Trip, Intercom, Fuel Cell. Custom Coil over Suspension, Wilwood Brake Master Cylinder and disc brakes front and rear, Limited slip rear end. Ready to race.

Email for more information and specs. Rick Row northbaybavarian@yahoo.com

’68 Porsche 911. Guards Red 2.0L. Full Cage, Fire System, Kirkey Seats, 5 Point Belts, 27 gal Fuel Cell, MSD, Fender Mounted Extra Oil Cooler, Smart Racing and Elephant Suspension. Fully sorted – Porsche Racing Ready. Built 2 cars at once, the sister car to this one in 2003 finished 9th overall. Call 512-346-1880 or email alg@texcpa.com
Over $55,000 invested– asking $26,500.

’65 Falcon. Built and prepared by MHRacing in San Miguel de Allende. Exactly the same as the two cars that came in first and second in Historic C in the Panamericana 2011. 302 Ford Motorsport engine with Dart heads, Air gap intake, 600 Holley and Canton Oil pan. Brand new Top Loader transmission. Ford 9 inch full floater rear end. Wilwood brakes all around. Tig welded roll cage, Fuel Safe fuel cell and Cobra carbon fiber seats. Apart from the body, there is not one single old part in this car, everything is brand new! Very fast, reliable and easy to drive. Email mats@mhracing.com.mx

‘66 Sunbeam Tiger. Ford 302 .060 over. High flow head . Roller rockers. Heavy-duty valve springs. Racing pistons, 10.5 to 1 compression. Racing cam. Heavy-duty oil pump . Edelbrock F4B manifold . Single wire chrome alternator. MSD distributor, coil, and ignition. High flow water pump. Fluidyne aluminum radiator. Aluminum oil cooler. Braded stainless steel fuel and oil lines with Aeroquip fittings. Holley 650 cfm Double pumper with regulator. Headers from Sunbeam Specialties. Remote oil filter. Heavy duty racing clutch lightened flywheel. Engine was totally rebuilt and computer balanced with the flywheel and harmonic balancer, approximately 8 hours on the engine. Ford top loader transmission, Rebuilt by "Toploader Heaven". Custom made heavy-duty drive shaft . Welded rear end. Custom made Mark Williams one-piece solid rear axles. Dual Holley Blue fuel pumps with relays. ATL 15 gal. fuel cell. Dual inline filter screens
Summit racing canister type fuel filter. Stainless steel fuel flex lines with Aeroquip fitting. $33,000 or b/o. Contact: Ed (415) 341-4965; ehugo@bhplaw.com

Photos and additional information are available at www.panamrace.com. Click on Classifieds.


The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not (probably not) represent the views of the Organizing Committee. The author is a competitor and any advice he offers may constitute a conflict of interest.

All forms of motor sports are inherently dangerous, and La Carrera Panamericana is no exception. It is a long, hard endurance race at high speeds along mountain roads. Mechanical failures are common, accidents not uncommon, and injury, even death, are possible. Cars should be carefully prepared, with an emphasis on safety (brakes, roll cage, etc.), and driven prudently. Drivers and navigators should remember that the most important goal is simply to finish this race.


Gerie Bledsoe, Coordinator

La Carrera Panamericana and Chihuahua Express

USPO address: 220 N. Zapata Hwy Ste 11


Laredo, TX 78043

1-650-525-9190 (Home office)

1-650-867-9488 (mobile, only in US)

Number in Mexico +52-415-185-8470

Email: gbledso@aol.com




Carrera car number: Chevy II, Nova, #395, Historic C (1999-2011)

Carrera Office, Mexico City 1-310-6959

Email info@lacarrerapanamericana.com.mx